The Way I See it: Home for Christmas

Families reuniting is one of the best things about Christmas, says columnist Michele Blais

“I’m dreaming tonight of a place I love/Even more than I usually do/And although it’s a long road back/I promise you.”

And WestJet, or Air Canada, or CN, or Greyhound, or my best friend, or favourite horse, or the subway, Skytrain, transport truck have promised me that they will get you home on time.  Transport home has many forms and over the years the challenges for many have been just that.

I went to the airport this week to pick up my oldest son who lives in Toronto and was coming home for the holidays. On the drive to the airport I thought of other parents and family members who would be picking up their loved ones, including my mom, who loved all of us coming home for Christmas. She loved Christmas and it was the being together, the days of shared meals; planning the big day or just hanging out was time she cherished, laughing, sharing stories, and lots of hugs. She is truly missed and thought of with deep love.

“I’ll be home for Christmas, you can plan on me/Please have snow and mistletoe and presents on the tree.”

About the time I left home, Mom would say we needed to be there for Christmas because it might be her last. Over the years mom had cancer twice, heart attacks and diabetes so it was possible but she had an extreme will to live. She stopped saying it when she turned 80 and would just discuss next year’s plans. She lived to 88.

One time I surprised her and came home from California when she thought I wasn’t because I had repeatedly told her I couldn’t. No extra money, no time off, and I was moving home in the summer. The previous year was missed as well and this was the longest time we had gone without hugging each other.

My brother Don picked me up at the airport and brought me to her house and we walked in. She was at the end of the hall, stepping into a room, said hello, kept walking and then realized it was me. She turned around and came running to me and embraced me so tightly I shall never forget the feeling and she was crying; tears flowed for me too. Maybe it is just me but as one of many children in a big family I sometimes used to think it was OK to be absent because my siblings were there. That hug let me know squarely that it was really important that I was there. The hugs from our family members are the best presents ever.

I won’t use the “this could be my last Christmas” line that my mom used, at least not yet, to convince my lads to come home for the holidays but I could be open to ideas. Of course they want to!

There is something very special about seeing the people you love in person, hugging, admiring their faces, hearing their technology-free voice. Standing beside my sons warms my heart as it did when they were six and does now when they are men. So very grateful for family, friends, neighbours and for so much. Perhaps that is something we do around holidays, is an inventory of what is good in our lives. Our new year’s resolutions deal with the deficits.

On Thursday the Kelowna airport was filled with a charged electricity that comes with the excitement of seeing family and friends and the extra bonus of the holiday season.

Holidays are to celebrate our traditions, whatever they may be. My willingness to be open to making it special is within my power. The years I wasn’t with my mom and siblings I was with my other families, friends and neighbours who had become loved ones to me. Our families come in many forms, may the time with yours be ever so wonderful.

“Christmas Eve will find me where the love light gleams/I’ll be home for Christmas If only in my dreams.”

Michele Blais has worked with children and families in the North Okanagan for the past 28 years. She is a longtime columnist for The Morning Star who writes on a variety of topics, appearing every other Sunday.